Wednesday, May 4, 2011

still learning

Have you ever visited a bookstore without anything special in mind and had a book leap off the shelf and into your hands for reasons you couldn’t fathom? And then, it turned out to be just the thing you needed…to take to the beach or to bring a smile to your lips or to answer a question that had you stumped or…to change the course of your life. It wasn’t a book that had been recommended by a friend that you just happen upon by chance that day. It wasn’t something that you’d been searching for in vain that suddenly appeared like magic. It was something you never expected.

The first time this happened to me, it was an unassuming book of quotes by Mother Theresa of Calcutta, The Joy in Loving. It found me when I had just finished serving in one of her missionary hospices in Balaclava, Jamaica.


Then, it was Party of One by Anneli Rufus, written in defense of people like me who enjoy living and working in solitude, women who avoid lunching with friends, and shun chatting on the phone in favor of cultivating their passion in life.  Jane Goodall also comes to mind.

This time the book is Story Engineering by Larry Brooks (

It jumped out at me from a website I was scanning so I sent for it right away. In it, the author outlines the steps to creating a story arc and character arc. He teaches a storytelling model…where to start and exactly how to get where you need to go. This may be second nature to those of you who hold an MFA in creative writing…but for those of us who have written little more than patient care plans for thirty years, it is a goldmine. I mean, I’ve read about concept, premise, and theme. And I know about the importance of the inciting incident, plot points, and conflict, about three dimensional characters, and “showing not telling”…but for the first time, I really feel as though I’m learning how to put them to work in my writing.

This is exciting because there is a story I have been aching to write for over ten years. Suffice it to say that it has something to do with corporate greed, betrayal, forbidden love, an environmental disaster, and the Church. Finally, I am hopeful that it may find its way onto the page…and I’m really excited about the prospect! Thanks, Larry. I can hardly wait to begin…again.
“I am still learning.”


  1. I have had that happen to me. I'm going to look up that book "Party of One." I think I would like it and so might my sister.

  2. It was nice to know that I wasn't the ONLY person who enjoys solitude. In fact, we have alot of good company. Hope you enjoy it.

  3. Oh, I haven't heard of any of these books! I love it when books leap off the shelves.